LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug 10, 2003) - The biggest complaint from drivers at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is always that the circuit design makes passing extremely difficult. Today wasn't an exception as only one pass occurred among the top-12 ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug 10, 2003) - The biggest complaint from drivers at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is always that the circuit design makes passing extremely difficult. Today wasn't an exception as only one pass occurred among the top-12 drivers in the 17-car Toyota Atlantic field and it happened on the opening lap. Regardless, Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, posted the third fastest lap in round nine of the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship on Sunday, Aug. 10, and finished seventh place.
Diaz, whose final qualifying session on Saturday was effectively rained out, was forced to start eighth based on his provisional qualifying time from Friday. However, Diaz's Telmex Swift 014a still ran lap times that were consistently among the top-three throughout the raced and officially recorded the third fastest lap at 1:16.485 (106.280 mph). This was a mere .0.001-seconds off the second fastest lap and only 0.08-seconds short of Jonathan Macri's best lap for the race at 1:16.405 (106.391 mph).
The race's most important moment, if not most interesting, was soon after a green started the 30-lap Atlantic sprint around the 2.258-mile, 10-turn road course. A yellow flag start due to improper field alignment opened the race with "counting laps." The field took the green flag on Lap 2 with polesitter A.J. Allmendinger leading through the first turn. Meanwhile, Canadian Michael Valiante, who started fourth, outmaneuvered third place starter Ryan Dalziel and outside polesitter Aaron Justus to move into second in the first turn. Valiante then chased down Allmendinger by the second turn.
Valiante squirted to the inside of Allmendinger in the turn but his right front wing and tire made contact with the left rear of Allmendinger's car. Allmendinger went flying off the course and slid to a stop against a tire barrier. Allmendinger was uninjured but angry. Valiante continued and literally won the race off that move. It was also the only time that anyone among the top-12 was able to improve their position. Diaz fell in line with the other leaders but never found another opportunity to move higher.
Dalziel, who claimed second place, gained on series leader Allmendinger and only trails by 20 points, 150-130. Diaz collected nine points and remained in ninth place with 68 points. However, Diaz remains in striking range of the top-six and only trails sixth-place Joey Hand by 12 points, 80-68. Diaz is only 29 points behind fifth-place Justus who has 97 points.
SPEED Channel televised the race on a same-day, one-hour delay but has scheduled rebroadcasts on Monday, August 11 at 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. Noon PT) and again on Friday, August 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. PT).
Round 10 of the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship will be Saturday, Aug. 23, at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.